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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Foreign Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region

Daniel R. Russel
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Evan Medeiros, Senior Director for East Asian Affairs, National Security Council
New York, NY
September 27, 2013

3:15 P.M. EDT


MODERATOR: Good afternoon, and welcome to the New York Foreign Press Center’s briefing on U.S. foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region. Before I introduce our briefers, I would like to quickly review the format. First and foremost, today’s briefing is on the record. We’ll begin with remarks from our speakers, and then open the floor for questions. We have a full house today, so – both here in New York and in D.C. – so please wait for the microphone before asking your question, and remember to state your and media organization.

With that, I’m pleased to introduce our briefers, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel, and Senior Director for East Asian Affairs on the National Security Staff Evan Medeiros.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, thank you, very much, Ariel. Thank you all for coming both here in New York, my hometown, and in Washington via video link. I’m pleased to be here with my close friend and colleague, Evan Medeiros. We worked together intensively when we were both at the National Security Council. We are working together just as intensively now that we are at the State Department and the NSC, respectively.

This has been a very busy week for us on the Asia account in what will be a very busy month for us on the Asia account, in what has been a very busy year for the United States on the Asia account, and it’s indicative of the priority that the Administration places on the Asia-Pacific region that we are jointly engaged in so much diplomacy.

If I may, I thought what I would do is to just tick through quickly some of the events that I’ve been involved in in the week here during the opening of the General Assembly and then turn to my colleague, Evan, to talk a bit about the issues and the schedule from the perspective of the White House.

I came up, although the Secretary preceded me, on Monday, attended the event for foreign heads of delegation hosted by President Obama on Monday night, and was able to see and talk to many of our Asian counterparts and friends there. I then, on Tuesday, joined with the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Mike Froman, a good friend and colleague of both of us, at the signing of the Transparency Agreement between the U.S. and Mongolia, something that we have worked on jointly for a while and which we think is going to bear great results in terms of increased trade and investment. I joined Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns in his meeting with the Foreign Minister of Singapore, where we covered bilateral, regional, and multilateral issues including TPP, which is a an initiative that in many respects began with Singapore.

I met, in company with our Ambassador to Myanmar Derek Mitchell, with the Immigration Minister of Myanmar to talk about developments in that country, including political prospects for reform and some of the difficult issues related to ethnic minorities, national reconciliation, and the upcoming census.

I met also on Tuesday with the Secretary in the Foreign Ministry of Australia Peter Varghese and with the Foreign Minister of New Zealand. On Wednesday, I participated – chaired, actually – a meeting of ministers and vice ministers of the Lower Mekong Initiative, five countries where we’re coordinating on issues like food security, water management. I had a good session with the Perm Sec of the Thai Foreign Ministry, Secretary Sihasak, and that evening attended the gala dinner of the Korea Society, which commemorated both the 60th anniversary of the alliance, the great diplomatic tradition of both countries, and where we heard a really outstanding speech from Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, who’s an old friend.

On Thursday, I joined Secretary Kerry at a working breakfast with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and there was a background briefing provided to the press after that meeting. I briefly attended the U.S.-America Business Council Chamber of Commerce luncheon for the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Prime Minister Najib, and was able to chat with him briefly. And Evan, I’m sure, will have more to say about upcoming events in Malaysia.

Along with Deputy Secretary Burns, I met with the Foreign Minister of Myanmar and then with the Foreign Secretary of the Philippines before leading the U.S. delegation to a meeting chaired by the Secretary General of the UN called the – what used to be called the Friends of Burma or the Friends of Myanmar and is, I think, now in the process of being rechristened as the Partners of Myanmar.

Today, Evan Medeiros joined me and Secretary Kerry from the first meetings this morning with the Foreign Minister of Indonesia Marty Natalegawa, who’s an important partner and a longstanding friend of the United States. The chair of APEC this year is, of course, Indonesia. And we were able to discuss both those issues and issues relating to the agenda of U.S.-ASEAN meetings and the East Asia Summit that will follow.

We also attended the Secretary’s meeting with the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Prime Minister Nguyen and, importantly, the annual meeting between Secretary Kerry and the 10 ASEAN foreign ministers, where we were able to coordinate on a range of issues and agenda items, again both for the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and for the East Asia Summit as a whole. The remarks of Secretary Kerry were carried live.

The Secretary also had a meeting with the new Foreign Minister of Australia Julie Bishop, and just a few minutes ago chaired a roundtable discussion on climate change with a very distinguished group of leaders and ministers from the Pacific Island nations.

When we’re done here, we will go back to join our delegation and the Secretary, who will be having a meeting later today with the Foreign Minister of Korea.

And then next week, I will leave with Secretary Kerry to go first to Tokyo, where he, in tandem with Secretary of Defense Hagel, will participate in a historic meeting of the defense and foreign ministers, what we call the 2+2, for the first time being held in Japan, which I anticipate will mark an important milestone in our enhanced bilateral alliance cooperation. And from there, Secretary Kerry will go on to the APEC ministerial in Bali. And there’s much more to come.

Let me stop there and invite my friend and colleague, Evan, to make a few remarks before we turn it open to questions.

MR. MEDEIROS: Great. Thanks, Danny. It’s a pleasure to see everybody this afternoon, and I look forward to your questions. What I thought I’d do is make a few comments about the strategic context for the robust set of activities that Danny talked about that occurred this past week, and then look forward to so many important activities taking place in the next few weeks, and then open it up for Qs and As.

The first and most fundamental point I’d like to make is that beginning in 2009, the President made a strategic commitment to rebalance U.S. foreign policy toward Asia. That was a commitment to increase the amount of time, energy, resources, and mind share that the President and his entire cabinet would devote toward protecting and promoting American economic and American security interests in the Asia-Pacific region. And that fundamental strategic decision was based on a very clear-eyed assessment of U.S. interests, in particular the fact that U.S. economic and security interests were inextricably and increasingly linked to the events of the Asia-Pacific region. And that’s what drove this strategic decision that Danny and I have been working so hard over the last four-plus years to implement. It’s based on a recognition that going back six decades the U.S. has played a historic role in the Asia-Pacific. And among the many contributions the United States has made to this region has been to set the essential predicate of security that has allowed historic prosperity to flourish in that part of the world.

In addition, we recognize that there continues to be strong demand signals from the region for further enhanced U.S. engagement. And that’s what drove President Obama’s vision for this rebalancing strategy, based on a desire to create a region that is premised around a stable and diversified security order, an open, transparent and inclusive economic order and a liberal political order. And it’s that very vision that we have been implementing over the last several years.

Obviously, the events of this week, and especially the President’s speech, have raised – have generated a lot of focus on events in the Middle East. And I’m here to say, simply, that the rebalance is alive and well, and it’s going to be reflected in lots of important activities over the next few weeks.

The United States is a global superpower. We can work on crises of the day and continue to invest in our long-term strategic interests, which is what the rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific is all about. We can walk in Asia and chew gum in the Middle East at the same time without a problem.

So when you just look forward over the next few weeks, I think the events themselves speak to the enhanced commitment of this Administration to the rebalancing. Today in Washington, the President had the pleasure of welcoming Prime Minister Singh of India to the White House, in which they talked about India’s look-east policy and talked about their desire to enhance cooperation and coordination in the Asia-Pacific.

As Danny mentioned, Secretary Kerry and Hagel are going to be in Tokyo next week for a historic 2+2 summit, and prior to that, Secretary Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Dempsey will be in Korea for one of our top meetings with Korean security policy officials.

The following week, President Obama will spend the entire week in Asia. He’ll visit four Southeast Asian countries, participate in APEC, the East Asia Summit; spend a lot of time with our friends in ASEAN, move on to Malaysia for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit; and then his fourth stop will be a very important visit to our friend, partner, and importantly our ally, the Philippines. That trip alone is meant to underscore our commitment to growing our economic ties in East Asia, to enhance our coordination on diplomatic challenges facing the region, and also to enhance the important people-to-people ties that are the foundation of so much of what holds together the relationships between America and the people of the Asia-Pacific.

So with that, let me stop, and I look forward to your questions.

QUESTION: Kyung Min Jung, JoongAng Ilbo, South Korea. President Obama, during the UN address, mentioned – didn’t mention about North Korean nuclear issue. But he mentioned about Middle East issue like Syria, Iran. That means strategic (inaudible)? Was there any message or just a policy shift from North Korea to Middle East?

And second question: China wants Six-Party Talk without any condition, but the U.S. and South Korea wants a defense measure to ensure international community. Dan, what kind of measures should be done by North Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, thank you for those two questions. Let me begin and invite Evan to add or subtract.

The scorecard on U.S. diplomacy is not updated on a day-to-day basis. The continuity of policy in the Obama Administration, now across two terms, is vivid. Not only is the Administration, beginning with the President and the Secretary of State, deeply committed to our engagement in the region and to the security of the region, but it is clear that the threat posed by North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a significant priority and a major component of U.S. policy efforts.

Those policy efforts begin with – in extraordinary close coordination with our allies and partners, first in Seoul, and well as in Tokyo, also very importantly with China and with Russia, along with the rest of the international community.

The effort also to apply a microscope to the question of what exactly North Korea needs to do shouldn’t be approached on a day-by-day basis either. The focal point for all of our efforts must be on the end state that we seek to achieve, which is the complete and verifiable, peaceful, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which for all practical purposes means of North Korea.

The North Koreans are under no illusions about what the world expects of them, which is fully to abide by their international obligations and live up to their commitments, including the important commitments that they made in 2005 under the joint statement. The efforts by the international community and consistent with the multiple binding resolutions of the UN Security Council, the efforts of five of the parties to the Six-Party Talks, and particularly recently, some important signals and steps taken by North Korea’s close neighbor, China, all point to one thing: that North Korea can and will be welcomed into the international community if – but only if – it honors its obligations and begins by taking meaningful and irreversible steps towards denuclearization.

We seek negotiations, as we have consistently. Negotiations must be to achieve the goal that I described. There’s no interest for – in talks for talk’s sake.

MR. MEDEIROS: I completely agree with Danny. I would just underscore the point that I made in my opening presentation, which is the President’s commitment to the rebalancing is strong and enduring. The rebalancing is alive and well. An important part of that rebalancing strategy is ensuring that our relationships with our allies and partners in the region are strong in order to meet the principal security challenges facing us. North Korea’s nuclear weapon program is one of them.

And so across all of our interactions throughout Asia we regularly discuss the issue of how we can coordinate and cooperate more closely in order to achieve the goal that Danny identified, which is denuclearization. We’re not interested for talks for the sake of talks. We’ve seen no indication that North Korea is serious about resuming talks, and so in that context we’re very focused on that principal goal of denuclearization and that threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles continues to be a major feature of all of our discussions throughout the region in support of our broader rebalancing strategy.

QUESTION: Janine Harper, Fuji Television. I just want to tag on to the North Korea topic. My colleagues in Berlin covered a meeting between Ambassador Stephen Bosworth and North Korean negotiator Ri Yong-ho, and I just wanted to know if you guys had heard anything about the results of that meeting that you could share with us today.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: We’re in very close and regular communication with our friends and colleagues. Ambassador Bosworth, who is a dear friend of mine, was one of quite a large number of now private citizens who have participated over time in what the experts call track two, which means nongovernmental meetings and engagements.

We followed with interest the travel of both Vice Minister Kim Kye-gwan and Vice Minister Ri Yong-ho, both of whom I know well from negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea in the 1990s, first to China and then to several stops in Europe.

The readouts from these track two meetings are consistent with the other indications that North Korea would like to, if I can use an idiomatic expression, have its cake and eat it too. The North Korean diplomatic message seems to be that they want economic support from the West, but they want also to be allowed to retain their ability and their programs with a view to developing nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable missiles. That’s not going to happen.

The North Koreans also lay claim to a hostile threat from the United States that justifies somehow that pursuit of nuclear weapons when it is self-evident that North Korea’s own security is being compromised, is undermined by those programs and that not only the United States, not only the member of the Security Council, but the entire international community is united both in objecting to their continued violation of international law but simultaneously willing to embrace and support a North Korea that lives up to its obligations, that honors its commitments, that takes irreversible steps to denuclearize, and importantly, that begins to respect the rights, including the human rights, of its own population.

MODERATOR: We’ll go to our colleagues in Washington.

QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Secretary and Evan, for doing this. My name is Guohua Zang with CTI TV of Taiwan. Congratulations on a lot of the diplomatic work that you have been doing in New York and also in Asia, I think, but if we look at East Asia, two of the most important players, China and Japan, are still on a collision course, shall we call it. The tension between the two countries over some disputed islands in the East China Sea is escalating. What is it that the United States has done or is thinking of doing or is planning doing to de-escalate the tension and to help resolve the issue?

I understand that the United States – and Mr. Secretary, you yourself, have stated the U.S. policy on numerous occasions, but stating your policy or restating it would not resolve the issue. The tension is still escalating. What is it that you plan to do to actually resolve, to de-escalate the situation, first of all, and then help the two countries to resolve their dispute? Thank you very much.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, thank you for that question. And as I made clear during my recent travel to the region, including to Beijing and to Tokyo, the United States has a huge national interest in both the stability of the region as well as in the cooperation between the two largest economies in Asia and two very important partners of the United States. Japan is a close friend and ally of the United States, and the U.S. also has an extraordinarily important and constructive bilateral relationship with China.

With both countries we are able to be candid and we have been candid in making clear our view that peaceful diplomatic means is the only acceptable path to managing and ultimately resolving territorial issues between any two nations, including China and Japan. And that while we take no position on specific issues of sovereignty, we are outspoken in reinforcing the principles that we think are at stake. We oppose any use of coercion. We oppose unilateral actions that can be destabilizing and change the status quo. And we welcome every and all efforts between the two to communicate, to consult, and to ensure that the groundwork is in place so that not only can incidents be prevented but misunderstandings that could lead to escalation are avoided and are managed.

This is an element of our discussions with the leaders from both countries on a regular basis, and we welcome, as I said, any and all of the steps that are underway between Tokyo and Beijing to ensure that the global economy, the regional economy, and the stability and the well-being of the Asia-Pacific are protected and made priorities for all concerned.

MR. MEDEIROS: And as Danny said, our policy and our commitments on this issue are very, very clear, and through our high-level diplomacy, by restating our policy, and in particular, our interest in a peaceful resolution of differences, the fact that the United States has a strong stake in a diplomatic resolution to this – we believe that sends a strong signal to both sides about the pathway that should be used to pursue that.

It’s also important in that context to keep in mind our commitments. Japan is a treaty ally of ours. We take those commitments very, very seriously, and we’ve stated multiple times that we oppose any unilateral efforts to undermine Japan’s administrative control. So it’s important for U.S. policy to be clear and consistent, and we believe that we’ve done that, and that creates an important context in which further diplomacy can continue.

QUESTION: Thank you. Hi, it’s John Kehoe from the Australian Financial Review here. I just wanted to ask, in terms of the U.S.’s well-documented pivot to Asia, do you see Australia being able to partner with the U.S. and play a useful role? And if so, what would you envisage as that – part of that role? And secondly, could I ask – Australia has been accused by some of freeriding on the U.S. defense system with our defense spending falling to a multi-decade low. The new government that has just been elected has promised to increase it back towards 2 percent of GDP over the next decade. What are the Administration’s thoughts on that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Well, first and foremost, Secretary Kerry had a great meeting with the new Foreign Minister, Foreign Minister Bishop, today, of Australia. And one of the things that it brought home to me was the absolute quality of the dialogue between U.S. and Australian leaders as well as diplomats. We have not only a close alliance tested in battle, but a strong partnership and an even stronger friendship. So what we not only look for but count on from Australia spans the gamut from security cooperation to economic, commercial, financial intercourse to people-to-people, educational, science, and technology cooperation, to, importantly, our extraordinary cooperative efforts in the global arena, including and particularly in multilateral institutions and organizations.

There is no more vivid example of that extraordinary cooperation than what is happening tonight when the 15 members of the UN Security Council, under the presidency of Australia, will meet to consider and adopt a resolution on one of the most pressing issues of the day in Syria. There are many other fora in which the U.S. and Australia cooperate closely, and what we are looking for in the new government is precisely what the new Prime Minister and the new Foreign Minister have pledged, which is to continue the close collaboration and the contributions that Australia is making in the region and on the global stage.

With respect to your second question, I would say, “See previous answer,” namely that Australia is and has been an important security partner and a constructive actor in its own right in terms of the maintenance of peace and stability, both in the Asia-Pacific region – and particularly throughout the Pacific – but also internationally, as witnessed by Australia, and extraordinary peacekeeping contributions globally as well as specifically in Afghanistan.

The Australian decisions about defense budgets and defense policies, of course, are sovereign decisions, but they are made on the basis of Australia’s national interest. We in the United States consider ourselves blessed that Australian governments consistently judge contribution to regional and global security as very much in Australia’s own interest. We welcome those contributions and we look forward to strengthening both the alliance and the global partnership under the new administration of – government of Prime Minister Abbott.

QUESTION: Hi, Kyoko Yamaguchi from Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. Thank you for doing this today. So I have two questions, one on South China Sea. So it’s been a few years that – since U.S.’s position has been that the countries should make – should clarify their position, their claims based on international law, and I was wondering if you could make – update us on where you are, what kind of progresses you have made on this, and especially from China. Secretary Kerry talked about this with Foreign Minister Wang Yi when he met with him a few days ago. So have you seen any signs from China that they are prepared to do this? And if not, what more – what – how – what can you do more to push in this direction?

And another one on North Korea: So China has started imposing export control towards North Korea recently, and have they made any – have the Chinese – have they made any change in their calculation towards their – the North Koreans? Have they shifted from supporting North Koreans to perhaps tightening more sanctions? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thank you very much. Just as one point of clarity, we’re speaking for the U.S. Government, not for the People’s Republic of China. So you’ll forgive us if we don’t venture down the road of trying to explain or analyze what the Chinese may or may not be planning, what their calculus is, and what they are thinking. We can certainly describe and will describe U.S. position and what we’re seeing. Let’s just stipulate that the U.S. position on maritime issues, and particularly on the South China Sea, is wholly unchanged, and it’s driven by our insistence that key principles such as freedom of navigation; such as unimpeded – the right to unimpeded, lawful commerce; such as the peaceful resolution of disputes must be upheld and must be observed by all parties, big and strong – big and small.

The Secretary, and indeed, the President has made clear that – to the claimants – and this is not unique to the South China Sea, but it’s certainly an issue in the South China Sea – it is essential that as a predicate for being able to resolve claims, that claimants state their claims clearly, clarify ambiguities, and do so not on the basis of a motive or historic arguments, but in ways that are fully consistent with international law, including the UN Law of the Sea.

The problems that the world is witnessing in the South China Sea go beyond the ambiguity about claims and apply very directly to the conduct of parties in the area, including in the disputed areas. And we – I think, like others – have watched very attentively the recent meetings between China and ASEAN, including the meetings at the senior official level in Suzhou that appear to represent an advancement of the dialogue and appear to have reached a conclusion that ASEAN and China will make the issue of the code of conduct a priority and a regular element in their ongoing dialogue and consultations, if not negotiations.

We think that rapid progress towards a binding code of conduct is immensely important, both in terms of the code – namely, a rules-based framework that will govern the behavior of the parties, as well as the claimants – but also in terms of conduct because the risks to not only the countries concerned, but the region, from an incident, from a clash of some sort, are very serious and need to be managed.

Briefly, before turning to my colleague, on North Korea – again, without presuming to get into the mind of Chinese leaders or decision makers, I would say that the announcement earlier this week by the Government of China to take clear action to proscribe a large number of items that potentially could contribute to North Korea’s WMD programs of – is consistent with the world’s hopes that China increasingly would put its money where its mouth is, so to speak, in taking action to both impede North Korea’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons and nuclear missile capability, but also to signal to the leadership in Pyongyang that there is no viable alternative to a negotiated denuclearization. There is no circumstance in which the international community is prepared to turn a blind eye to North Korea’s ongoing nuclear program.

MR. MEDEIROS: On North Korea – let me take your second question first – on North Korea, the United States will simply not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapon state. So in that context, what is the strategy for achieving denuclearization? As Danny stated, our view is that North Korea needs to be presented with a set of circumstances under which it makes a strategic choice to abandon its nuclear weapon program as the principal way to guarantee its security. We think that pressure is needed to bring that about. We welcome the steps that China has taken. We think more is needed, and it’s going to be a critical part of the U.S.-China relationship looking forward.

Our leaders have talked about building a new model of relations in the 21st century. Well, a critical way of doing that is demonstrating that on the big, strategic challenges our two countries face in the Asia-Pacific, that the United States and China are cooperating.

On the South China Sea, it’s important to keep in mind, as Danny said, that our position fundamentally is one of principles. And you’re well aware of those principles, but ensuring that all countries – not one particular country, all countries – reference their claims or specify their claims with reference to international law is fundamental, and we want all countries to do that. And in two weeks, when the President is at the East Asia Summit, that provides an important opportunity for us to have another conversation with the 18 members of the East Asia Summit to talk about what the process would be for bringing about progress over the South China Sea.

And as Danny said, we think that a code of conduct is a critical way, a critical mechanism to put in place to begin to manage these disputes, to prevent accidents or miscalculations from coming about. And we think that progress on that needs to be expedited.

MODERATOR: We have time for one last question. We’ll go to Washington, and then we’ll wrap up.

QUESTION: (Laughter.) Great. I feel so lucky. My name is Hui Wang. I’m with CCTV, China Central Television. Thank you so much for taking time to do this. We are really – we really appreciate it. And my questions are – is about Japan. During the current UN General Assembly, Japan’s Prime Minister Abe signaled he hoped to move ahead with collective self-defense. He also suggested he would allow Japan to assist the United States. Do you welcome this kind of assistance from Japan? Do you support Abe’s potential actions to exercise collective self-defense?

And a follow-up question: Some people believe that the attempt to exercise collective self-defense actually is an approach to adjust Japan’s current constitution, which was made after the World War II. So does that suggest Japan is not satisfied with the rules set back then? And what’s your opinion? And as an ally, what would you say to Japan? Thank you so much.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Thank you for the question. Well, as an ally, what I would say to Japan – what we do say to Japan, and what I anticipate Secretary Kerry and Secretary Hagel will say to Japan when they visit there next week for the defense and foreign ministerial meeting, the 2+2, is that the United States is deeply committed to the U.S.-Japan alliance, which we consider to be the cornerstone of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. We have, as a matter of policy, administration after administration, generation after generation, worked closely with the Government of Japan to develop and – the alliance and to intensify our cooperation and coordination both for the defense of Japan, but more broadly in the long-term strategic interests of the United States and the region.

Our efforts and our, I would say, successes in modernizing the U.S.-Japan alliance predate the visit in February of this year to Washington by Prime Minister Abe. But Prime Minister Abe’s visit and his meetings in Washington, particularly with President Obama, lent great impetus, I think, to progress across a number of very important fronts. One area, of course, is on the economic side. But other elements include both intensified discussion on how we can work together to push through – push forward on our realignment roadmap, but also what elements of our cooperation bear strengthening and bear adjusting.

Now, I’m not going to speak to issues associated with sovereign decisions by Japan and the Japanese people about how they will interpret or even possibly someday make adjustments to their own constitution. That’s their business. We have full faith in the people and the nation of Japan to make their own decisions. What we are discussing with them is how we can improve interoperability, what the right balance is in terms of the roles and the missions and the capabilities of Japan and the United States, and in what specific and practical ways that we can harness the good communication and the confluence of views between the governments in Washington and Tokyo to produce greater security and greater stability in Northeast Asia.

There are a wide range of areas in which we are and seek to further develop that coordination. And let me just offer these comments as a teaser for what I expect you will see as a joint statement coming out of the upcoming meetings.

Let me ask Evan if he’s got anything to add.

MR. MEDEIROS: Great. Thanks, Danny. Again, I don’t want to spoil the movie, since it’s coming next week in Tokyo with Secretaries Hagel and Kerry. Let me just say that we support a strong Japan. We’re constantly working to make our alliance better and more relevant, and we welcome all steps by Japan to do that in close coordination with us.

I’d also say that the President saw Prime Minister Abe on the margins of the G20. I was there at that meeting. It was about a good a meeting as I’ve seen. They had a truly global conversation about – that underscored the global nature of our relationship. They talked about Syria, they talked about Afghanistan, and then of course, in very practical ways, they talk about the security challenges that we face in the region, North Korea being one of the most prominent features of that.

So we look forward to working very closely with Prime Minister Abe and his team to ensure that we have a strong alliance that contributes to our shared security interests in the region, and all the policies and actions that contribute that goal are welcome on our part.

Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY RUSSEL: Great. Thank you all very much. I’m sorry we don’t have more time.

MODERATOR: That concludes our briefing. Thank you.

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